STV4340 – Designing Political Representation

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Choose semester

Course content

Virtually every democracy in the world has a different electoral system. The rules of the electoral game determine who can run for office and vote, and how votes are translated into seats. This affects the party system that is formed, the types of identities that become politicized, and also the characteristics of the individuals who get elected. In recent years there has been an increasing focus on ensuring the inclusion of women and minority groups in politics. But how can we best design electoral systems to be inclusive, fair, and well-functioning? And what are the effects of changing representative institutions in various way?

In this course we will discuss questions about how electoral systems are designed, with a focus on issues related to the inclusion of women and minorities in politics. We will talk about the incentive structures that are created by differing electoral systems, how they may affect which identities end up being politicized, talk about what constitutes “women’s interests” or “group interests”, and look at the effects of changing who is in power. We will read scholarly debates, but also look at many empirical examples from across the world.

Learning outcome


After completing this course, you will:

  • Be familiar with core discussions about political representation
  • Be able to differentiate between the main types of electoral systems
  • Understand the logic of Duverger’s Law and some of its limitations
  • Have a solid understanding of different policies enacted to increase the presence of women and minorities in politics
  • Know empirical examples of effects of such policies from across the world


After completing this course, you will:

  • Have improved your academic writing skills
  • Be able to apply theoretical arguments to different empirical contexts
  • Recognize essentialist and constructivist arguments about identities
  • Be able to identify and analyze trade-offs in institutional design


After completing this course, you will know how to:

  • Synthesize and compare theoretical arguments
  • Separate between normative and evidence-based arguments for policy change
  • Critically evaluate qualitative and quantitative empirical evidence
  • Provide empirical examples of theoretical arguments


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

Students enrolled in other Master's Degree Programmes can, on application, be admitted to the course if this is cleared by their own study programme.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

Apply for guest student status if you are admitted to another Master's programme.

For incoming students

All Master's courses in Political Science must be registered manually by the Department, they will not appear in Studentweb. Contact your international coordinator at UiO.


Recommended previous knowledge

Bachelor's degree in Political Science or similar.



Compulsory activities

Response papers.

  • are to be handed in three times
  • should be 800-1000 words of length
  • should be a reflection on to the readings of the relevant week (there are five weeks)
  • should apply the theoretical discussions of the week to an empirical example
  • will be the starting point for the discussions in the lectures that week

Students have to pass all the response papers to sit for the exam. All response papers have to be submitted in the same semester.

Absence from compulsory activities

If you are ill or have another valid reason for being absent from the compulsory activities, your absence may be approved or the compulsory activity may be postponed.


Term paper:

  • is due one week after the last seminar
  • should be 3000-3500 words of length
  • should develop an argument based on readings from multiple weeks of the course
  • should include empirical example(s)
  • can include literature not discussed in the course
  • can include original empirical analysis
  • must meet the formal requirements for submission of written assignments

Grading guidelines

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit your assignment.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English.You may submit your response in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Grading guidelines

Resit an examination

If you are sick or have another valid reason for not attending the regular exam, we offer a postponed exam later in the same semester.

See also our information about resitting an exam.

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Spring 2021

This course is not given on a regular basis


Spring 2021

This course is not given on a regular basis

Teaching language